Friday, November 17, 2006

Petrochem Companies Blame Workers For Cancer

Workers at Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, who were exposed to benzene caused their own cancer because they
voluntarily used the chemicals knowing the dangers and risks, and they failed to take precautions which could have avoided injuries.
And also, there were warnings on the chemicals and they were complying with industry standards and anyway the cancers were due to unavoidable accidents or by "abnormal or unintended uses" of the products.

Those are the excuses that 16 defendants including Exxon Mobil Corp., Sun Petroleum Products Co., Texaco, Standard Oil Co., Shell Canada and Shell Chemical are using to defend themselves against
nine former workers at the defunct tire factory who were exposed to dangerous levels of benzene, benzene derivatives, rubber solvents and other toxic and hazardous chemicals. Two the plaintiffs are dead.

According to the American Cancer Society, studies have linked benzene exposure to cancer, including myeloma, among rubber workers.

Myeloma is a progressive blood disease that affects the plasma cell, an important part of a body's immune system in the fight against infection and disease.


The lawsuit started when two women in their 50s who had worked together at Uniroyal in the 1970s discovered they both had multiple myeloma. The women began to research their illnesses and contacted a California law firm with experience in lawsuits related to toxic exposure.
All of their excuses about "complying with industry standards" might be amusing if we weren't talking about cancer. Amusing how? Benzene was first identified as a myelotoxin (meaning it's to bone marrow) in 1897 and leukemia in 1927. As early as the 1940's the American Petroleum Institute noted in the 1940s benzene caused leukemia noted that any level of exposure to benzene posed risks. Esso Oil's medical research division wrote an internal memo about the health effects of benzene in 1958 that said that "Most authorities agree that in light of present knowledge, the only level which can be considered absolutely safe for prolonged exposure is zero." Dow Chemical testified at OSHA's 1977 hearing on development of a benzene standard, but did not reveal that its own study had shown chromosomal damage at low levels of exposure until after the hearings were over. And the chemical industry fought OSHA's 1977 benzene standard all the way to the Supreme Court.

So cry me a river guys. And then pay up.

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